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American Express Platinum: Why It’s Worth the Annual Fee

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Just a couple of weeks ago, we put together a piece detailing all the reasons we thought The Platinum Card® from American Express was overhyped and overpriced.  We broke down four of the most-lauded The Platinum Card® from American Express benefits, like lounge access and the concierge, and described to readers how they could get those perks for free, or at least for much cheaper than the card’s pricey $450 annual fee.

Beyond those four features that can be replicated with other cards, The Platinum Card® from American Express’s other exclusive benefits are just too hard to quantify, or are just not practical for most credit card users.  Things like free room upgrades at exclusive resorts, dinner reservations at Michelin-starred restaurants, or private jet access are benefits that sound great in theory, but are too hard to put a real dollar value on for most cardholders, who won’t have any use for them.  Also, since we at NerdWallet can’t afford that hefty annual fee, we can’t accurately report on how much the card’s “status” benefits are worth.

Effective immediately, that is changing

The company just announced a number of new features for The Platinum Card® from American Express that aren’t exclusively the domain of the ultra-rich, but will also be huge improvements for any international travelers. And many of these new benefits are actually quantifiable, so it’s much easier for us to take our collective foot out of our mouths and say that this card is worth $450 now.

  • Complimentary Priority Pass Select membership – The Platinum Card® from American Express offers complimentary Priority Pass access to more than 600 airport lounges worldwide, as well as Centurion lounges and select Delta Sky Club and Airspace lounges. It one-upped the PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express® Card, which only offers 2 free passes a year. By contrast, AmEx offers Select access, which means cardholders get complimentary access to lounges all over the world (and $27 for guests). This sort of access normally costs around $400, and is definitely worth it to anyone who often flies overseas.
  • No more foreign transaction fees – American Express credit cards typically charge 2.7% of every purchase cardholders make overseas, which can mean hundreds of dollars to anyone spending big bucks on hotel rooms, food, rental cards and such while traveling.  But this fee has now been dropped, putting The Platinum Card® from American Express amongst the ranks of the few credit cards with no foreign transaction fees.
  • $100 credit towards the Global Entry programGlobal Entry is a government program allowing certain individuals “expedited clearance” upon re-entry into the U.S. Amex can’t guarantee that cardholders will be approved (an extensive application and background check process are necessary to prove you aren’t a risk), but they will rebate the $100 application fee.

Other ways to recoup the annual fee

  • $200 credit toward expenses on your favorite airline – Just register your preferred airline with Amex, and they’ll refund up to $200 per year of incidentals like baggage fees, change fees, or in-flight meals.
  • 20% Membership Rewards bonus on travel purchases – If you use their “Pay with Points” feature to book your next vacation using American Express Membership Rewards points, they’ll credit 20% of those points back to your account.  This makes these point redemptions worth 20% more than the standard 1 cent rate, and we’ve heard from a reliable source that Amex’s travel booking representatives essentially use Travelocity to book your trips, so you’re not getting ripped off by expensive travel agents.

  • Dirk Dasterdly

    I’m trying to find ANY reason to use this or the Black Card. Can’t do it. As others have posted, I use my Cap One 1.5% cash back no limit card for everything. Spend about $250,000/yr with it. That’s over $3700/yr back compared to $2500 point equivalent. And if you only get points and have to spend them on overpriced, or full priced, goods or services, what’s the point? If I wanted to be really frugal, I’d use Discover or Citi that have 5% back on certain categories up to a certain small amount back. I can get better deals shopping online and use my CASH back to buy those things. I’ve never used a concierge service and don’t do airport lounges anyway. Maybe there is a benefit. But I’m sure Amex makes it on both ends. You go to a lounge and pay $12 for a $4 drink or the concierge service sets you up with a vendor who pays them a fee to be “on their list” so they get something for that. No thanks. I think Amex is still stuck in the past where people paid fees for rewards cards. Wake up Amex. And btw, I don’t take Amex at my business bc they charge almost 2x what visa/mc do. “Don’t leave home without it…but if you do, that’s okay because everyone takes Visa.”

    • Jon Peabody

      Dirk, I don’t believe you’ve ever been in a lounge. Drinks, soda and alcohol, and food are free. You’re only charged if you’re purchasing premium brands of alcohol. If you are a Black or Centurion, there are the premium lounges – but you would know about that, right?

  • James

    I cancelled my American Express Platinum, because AMEX lied to me!

    AMEX refused to honor the sign up bonus–despite a representative confirming my account was eligible for it! The offer mysteriously vanished from my account, and the recorded phone call mysteriously was “unable to be listened to.” (AMEX phone calls are recorded for “quality purposes and fraud prevention”).

    I am terminating my relationship with American Express and filing complaints with the BBB/FCPB/FTC, plus giving AMEX bad reviews.

  • Doc Jay

    I love concierge. They’ve gotten me some tough covers: The French Laundry, Per Se, Urasawa, Daniel, and many more. I love the uber connect too. It’s great to pay for your ride with points. I spend about 300k a year on mine and love the companion first class ticket and the lounge access. We also like the car rental car and purchase protection. these features have saved me 10-20k. Love my platinum card

  • Sarah1227

    I agree. Been a member since 1988 and am getting ready to downgrade my card. I pay a $625 annual fee. With AMEX constantly changing my credit line for no reason and having credit limits with other cards that offer more rewards, I have seen no reason to keep this card. They left me in a bind while traveling and I just cannot take the chance again.

  • Murat Ozcan

    Can you get the Amex Platinum, add authorized users for all your family members, get the Global Entry,cancel the Amex card and not pay the 450 annual fee, re apply for the card in 5 years, rinse and repeat?

  • Pat

    I was thinking of applying for the Platinum card, but now don’t feel all that fuzzy feeling about it. I do 3-4 international trips/year and and another 7-10 in the US and wanted the lounge access, Delta miles and some of the other perks. My problem is that I exited a Ch13 bankruptcy 5 years ago and I hear that AmeX is not a forgiving creature – regardless of how long ago. Despite the fact we bought his and hers Porsche’s last year and having an Alaska Airlines card with generous limit – Do you think Amex would still blow me off? I don’t want a hard hit on my credit report. Took me awhile to build it back to a 780 score. I may go back to CitiBank after reading that you get lounge access with it.

    • mason boyd

      i got a platinum with a 645. Building my credit after making some bad choices. I’ve also had Amex for 5 years (the gold card) and always paid on time so perhaps that affected the outcome.

  • Davedguy

    I will not renew my Platinum card this next year. The $450 renewal fee is outrageous compared to the ‘perks.’ For example, the Priority Pass program is a joke. I’ve been denied access at EVERY airport where I have tried to use it despite assurance from AMEX that it would be honored. These include San Antonio, LAX, Honolulu, Frankfurt and Denver to name a few. Also, the number of available airport lounges worldwide continues to decrease as carriers drop their association with AMEX. The concierge service is also a joke. They are simply looking at the same internet ads you can access yourself. To date, I have always found a less expensive and more convenient alternative on my own than through the service. The point values are also ridiculously low. 50,000 points doesn’t translate to anything meaningful. By comparison, my Southwest Visa through Chase Bank has already earned three round trip flights for both my wife and I.

  • Richard

    This is not true. I requested a new Platinum card because mine had a crack on it. I requested it 2pm on Friday and received it at 9am on Saturday via UPS.

    • bradintx

      In fact it is true – it happenned EXACTLY as I described. Just last month our AMEX rep was here and was applaled to hear our story, then called the 800 number and got the same problem. I am glad that whoever you spoke to at AMEX had the smarts to take care of you. But I encourage anyone with an AMEX to call and confirm their policy.

    • Richard

      I actually didn’t talk to anyone and just did everything under my Amex account online. It gave me the option for next day Saturday delivery. Go figure!

  • bgalakazam

    Because I heard you can no longer get in United lounges. And at SFO the only intl. lounges are United… makes this perk useless and makes me lean toward Venture more.

  • martin

    when I got my Platinum on the late 80s I had a GREAT concierge service, a personal concierge I always dealt with, who helped me on many many occasions but over time this service became less and less useful and the service disappeared all together.. apparently now you only get it on the ‘Black’ card… this is why I am now back on a green…

  • bobthelob

    Total crap

  • Paul Fondo

    I don’t have a problem with the annual fee. My wife and I put about 80k a year on this card. The points are weighted compared to other Amex cards. We enjoy a free vacation every year on our points. The two hundred airline credit is great for bag fees, airline lounges, and if you feel like drinking on the flight. I always feel like Amex has my back, especially when traveling. If I ever encounter a problem, I just call, and its taken care of. When we travel and need a good restaurant recommendation, I call, they not only recommend a good restaurant, but reserve it for us. My wife turned 36 last month, I didn’t have time to find anything, so I called the platinum concierge service. They sent her 3 dozen roses, one rose for every year. I was billed and they even called me to see if everything worked out ok. Very happy customer.

  • Alpha & Omega Event

    That is a total lie because they did not prorate ours and my President was hospitalized and kept up with all of the payments and everything and you still charging additional interest etc… This is a total scam and we have seek legal counsel so look for the papers!!!!!!!!!

  • Brandon

    Same experience here. I’ve had better luck booking my travel directly than using the Amex Travel Services with my Platinum card.

    There is quite the rabble on flyertalk about the Platinum card losing its value and being replaced by the Chase Sapphire Preferred with respect to perks and access.

  • Jason K

    Capital One 360 doesn’t refund ATM fees, they just don’t charge them themselves. If you use an ATM outside the Allpoint network, you will be charged any applicable fees charged by the ATM owner. CO360 just won’t add any extra fees of their own. Also, if the ATM is outside the US they won’t charge any foreign transaction fees. I believe Ally and USAA reimburse ATM fees in the US and don’t charge ATM fees of their own, but do charge small foreign transaction fees. Schwab remains the king, neither charging ATM fees of their own, reimbursing ATM fees *anywhere in the world,* plus not charging any foreign transaction fees on any withdrawal or purchase.

  • steeler1

    is that true for using the priority pass as well? I think not. Unless I am misremembering, I have used other airlines’ clubs with the priority pass that comes with the AMEX Plat.

  • osuwillis

    DISQUST101… or any other member…. Can you advise if I purchase UNITED gift certificates from UNITED if these will qualify for the AMEX “$200 Airline Fee Credit”?? I am not aware that you can buy actual UNITED “gift cards” anywhere. In talking directly with AMEX, they gave me the impression that a UNITED gift certificate would show up as a “ticket purchase” and thus not qualify for the “$200 Airline Fee Credit”. Has anyone been successful in purchasing UNITED gift certificates and then getting it reimbursed by AMEX under the “$200 Airline Fee Credit”????

  • Rox

    Use ur priority pass card u get free with ur American Express Platinum card. It will get u into over 700 longes.. Including Unied clubs.